Shattered Glass and the Kindness of Strangers

Once upon a time, my family and I were on a week-long road trip. We traveled through several states, stopping to explore places that struck our fancy, with the last leg of our journey being an overnight hotel stay, then a day spent at a large zoo there, followed by the 6-hour drive home.

However. 

When we went out to put our bags in the truck the next morning, this is what we found.

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Someone had broken into about 10 cars in the parking lot of the hotel, smashing in the windows, and stealing everything of value inside.

Unfortunately, we had not thought to remove our car dual DVD player we had purchased for the kids for the trip, the GPS, some games, a power converter we had also purchased for the trip, and a few other items, including our checkbook.

My son, who NEVER left his Nintendo DS in the car, forgot it for the first time ever that night, and it was stolen too. If you’ve ever had a kid who was quite fond of their video games, you can imagine how unhappy he was. None of these things were visible, all hidden under the seats and in seat pockets, but the thief apparently just smashed in random vehicle windows all over the parking lot and then ransacked the insides for whatever he could find.

The glass though. It was like a bomb had exploded inward. It was EVERYWHERE. Thousands of tiny pieces of glass in every nook and cranny of the truck. I couldn’t believe one window could make that much shattered glass. We couldn’t possibly travel in it as it was. It wasn’t safe to even try to get inside. We were 6+ hours from home with all our suitcases and no place to go.

What on earth were we going to do?

We had to rely on the kindness of strangers. The hotel staff was wonderful. They gave us back our room for our kids to hang out in and a place to stow our luggage while we figured out what to do. We filed the police report and made arrangements with a glass company to come and replace the window later that day. Once all those things had been taken care of, we sat down to figure out what to do next while we waited for the truck to be fixed.

The kids were understandably quite upset, though to their credit, they tried to see it as an unexpected adventure. We loved a good adventure, and I’ve always told them some of the best parts of a road trip are the unexpected and unplanned things that happen, but this was not quite what we had in mind to make the end of our trip “exciting.”

While chatting with the hotel staff, we mentioned we had intended to spend the day at the local zoo, but that clearly wasn’t a possibility now. And then something unexpected happened. They happened to have 4 free passes for admission to the zoo, so we would only need to purchase 1 ticket instead of 5. Then the manager and another staff member volunteered to chauffeur us there and back in their personal vehicles.

They stored our luggage safely in their office, gave us the tickets, took us to the zoo, and arranged to pick us up about 5 hours later. I am sure they felt a certain amount of responsibility to us as their hotel customers, but it was no fault of the hotel that someone had chosen to break into a slew of vehicles in their parking lot. Allowing us more time in our room to sort things out was something I think would be fairly common practice in a situation such as that.

However, I think that giving us the zoo tickets and being our personal chauffeurs so that our kids wouldn’t miss the planned trip to the zoo – and to try to boost their spirits after being upset about not only losing their things, but feeling a bit violated after seeing their truck seats covered in shards of glass – was going above and beyond, and it was enormously appreciated.

What started out as a very upsetting morning and could have been a long and unhappy day, ended up being a fun afternoon at the zoo and a rather enjoyable day. When my kids got back and talked to their friends about their vacation, as well as writing those back to school papers about summer vacation, the one statement we heard again and again was, “We got robbed!”

Certainly, it was a memorable event. My kids have been taught to be kind, and I have watched them extend kindness to strangers themselves many times over, but I think being on the receiving end of it in a situation like that and realizing what a big difference those simple kindnesses from strangers made for us that day, really brought it home to them in a personal way how kindness can make a big impact.

For me, that is what is truly memorable.

[Oh, and all that glass? The people who replaced the window vacuumed the car out for us as best they could, we laid our jackets down on our seats, and still found glass all around us. We continued to find pieces of glass coming out of seemingly nowhere not for months, but for years.]

Photo credit: jeffc5000 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Thankful Thursday

I would like to make this a regular thing and I just realized today is Thursday (it’s been a crazy week with cancellations, snow days, reschedules that were then cancelled), so two posts today.

Off the top of my head, today I am thankful for:

  1. Snowplows, snow shovels, and men/boys to utilize them! Also that as much snow as we have, that we have nowhere near the amount some places in New York have received this week. My heart and prayers go out to the families of the people who were lost in that sudden mess.
  2. The fact that when my husband was being kind and plowing someone’s driveway (for free on a regular basis) an hour ago, they weren’t upset when he accidentally banged his side mirror against theirs and broke their glass. Unfortunately, his truck has those fancy very expensive telescoping mirrors and while his glass didn’t break (that would’ve been the cheap fix!), the arm did and now it’s hanging down the side of the truck by the wires. Sooooo, I’m thankful it was the passenger side and not the driver’s side while we figure out how to pay for that unexpected expense that just occurred.
  3. Yarn. All the yummy yarn. Every year once serious snow hits I suddenly want to make ALL the projects. I’ve decided to make a few cowls/snoods/neck warmers for Christmas gifts and maybe try to sell a few too.
  4. My sister. There’s nobody in life quite like a sister. We have known each other longest, irritated each other longest, loved each other longest, cheered each other on longest, and been there for each other through it all, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright devastating. There is no other relationship in my life quite like it, and I would not trade the one I was blessed with for anything. She’s beautiful and she rocks.
  5. My Baby Girl comes home tomorrow!!! Squee! (Yeah, I went there.) I am so excited to see her and hug her and hang out with her and cook with her and shop with her and … you get the idea. I. CAN’T. WAIT. I’m now crossing fingers and toes that the weather is decent, the snow stops, and the bridge is safe for crossing.

Snow Day

I fear this time …

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it’s here to stay.

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And more on the way. Oy.

(Guess I should’ve brought that umbrella in sooner. Oops. I was not expecting a snow day yesterday already in mid November. Tomorrow is a possibility too. This does not bode well. But I’m so grateful I’m not in the state of New York right now!!!)

“Thirty-Two Plus a Few, Thirty-Four Plus some More”

Do I enjoy growing old or do I fight against it?

Yes.

There are things to dislike about growing old.

Duh. Of course there are things to dislike about growing old. The list is long! There are the dreaded wrinkles and sags. Our bodies begin to creak and groan. Things begin to grow in weird places. Hormones can get whacky. We don’t recover as quickly as we used to or have the same amount of energy we once did. We have far more responsibilities than we did in our younger years. Some days we feel old and tired.

I’d like to say I proudly declare my age and embrace it, but I really don’t share it. People seem to think I look younger than I am, and I rarely feel the need to disabuse them of that notion, I think in large part because my mother ingrained in me when I was younger regarding a woman’s age that “a lady never tells and a gentleman never asks.” She had a thing about no one knowing her age, and for a very long time I really didn’t know how old she was. It might have had something to do with the fact that whenever one of us kids would ask her how old she was, her answer was always, “32 plus a few” and a few years later, “34 plus some more.”

But wait, there’s more!

Money Can’t Buy Me Love

Today’s writing prompt asks the question, if you could permanently get rid of one worry, what would it be?

I didn’t even have to think about this one. Hands down it would be one of two things, either no more health worries for my family (and myself) or no more money worries.

I’m not much of a worrier by nature. I believe in dealing with things as they come and not fretting about what I can’t control or wasting energy worrying about what might happen. I can do nothing about it until it actually does happen, so that is when I tackle it. If I know potential problems could arise, then I do what I can in advance to head those off, but there are rarely things that keep me up at night worrying about the what ifs.

But wait, there’s more!

As Jelly Beans Through the Hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives

This morning I watched this video. Oof. 

I have been very aware, particularly since my last birthday, that time grows ever shorter, that there are now more jelly beans in the bottom of my hourglass than in the top. My brain knows this. My heart knows this. My body sometimes takes great glee in reminding me.

But seeing my time like this, whittled away by all of life’s necessities and responsibilities, and then the small pile that is left, or maybe half of that pile, or maybe half of that half a pile, wow. That was incredibly sobering. From that giant pile of jellybeans, what was left was so … small.

But wait, there’s more!

Worlds within Worlds

A conversation the other day got me thinking again about how they say we are very alone in our own human experience, that we can never truly know how another person experiences life. We cannot know if we see the same colors, experience taste the same, or touch, etc.

It’s entirely possible we could sit side by side and experience the exact same sunset and see a different color spectrum. We could sit side by side and look at the ocean and each take away something entirely different based on our unique way of experiencing the world.

Certainly I know that no one can experience my brain and no matter how hard I try to verbalize my experience, so much gets lost before I utter the first word, and I know it. It can be very frustrating to try to communicate my thoughts, knowing no one can ever truly understand them.

But wait, there’s more!

Much Too Soon

wpid-20141031_124228.jpgThis was the scene here Friday. You can see the white stuff, but you can’t hear or feel the howling wind. It was a pretty nasty day outside, so much so that marching band was canceled for the playoff football game that night. This was the 4th time marching band had been canceled this fall due to inclement weather. It’s been a disappointing season for my son’s senior year.

I don’t know anyone who is ready for snow in October, do you? Personally, I’m not ready in November. I’m not even ready in December until about 12/23 or 12/24. I’d be a happy camper if we had a white Christmas, it stayed maybe a week for the kids to play, maybe 2, and then it was gone.

Instead, what we tend to have here is 2 seasons – winter, and the rest of the year. Winter seems to last nearly 6 months some years when snow starts in October and sometimes goes into April. It makes for some very long, dark, and dreary months.

I have plenty of hobbies to keep my mind and hands occupied through those long months indoors, but I do not look forward to the long stretches of freezing cold and feeling like I may never be warm again or the too often downright dangerous road conditions. I have become one of those people who wants to move to a warmer clime – 5 years ago! I have no idea if or when I’ll get there, but I oft dream of a little cottage by the beach where I can squish my toes in the warm sand and let the water soothe my soul.

It’s where you’ll find me, at least in spirit, whenever I’m caught daydreaming with a soft smile on my face, and especially when the temperatures dip into the single or negative numbers.